A recession in China has become investors’ biggest economic fear, according to the latest survey of global and regional fund managers.
The prospect of a Chinese slump has dwarfed all other concerns following a summer of A-share market crashes and currency devaluation.
Emerging-market sentiment has suffered in tandem, with poll results showing that managers’ allocations have hit their lowest level for 14 years.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch yesterday released its monthly fund manager survey*, which was conducted from August 7-13.
Asked what they considered to be the biggest “tail risk”, 52% of the managers surveyed said a Chinese recession. This easily dwarfed votes for the second-biggest tail risk, an emerging-market debt crisis, which was cited by about 13% of respondents.
The results come on the back of sharp equity and renminbi falls in mainland China in June, July and August. Another crash was seen on Tuesday this week , with the Shanghai Composite Index closing down 6.2%. But yesterday the index rebounded, closing up 1.23%.
China sentiment is generally poor. About 71% of survey participants said they believed China’s real GDP growth will trend down to below 6% by 2018 and one-third think it will fall below 5%. In addition, despite a 25% decline since its June peak, two-thirds of the surveyed investors think that the China A-share market is still in a “bubble”.
This China bearishness has been reflected in poor global and EM sentiment.
A mere 53% of investors said that the global economy would strengthen in the coming year, which was a significant drop from 61% in July.
The survey also reported the lowest allocations to EM equities since April 2001.
“Investors are sending a clear message that they are positioned for lower growth in China and emerging markets,” said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.
*A total of 202 panellists with $574 billion of assets under management participated in the survey; 162 managers, managing $449 billion, took part in the global survey; and 100 managers, managing $224 billion, participated in the regional surveys.